Tuesday: 5.25 mile run with a friend
Exercising alone can be tough. Our self doubts or lack of sleep often get to us, preventing us from rolling out of bed and heading out the door for a good workout. Training partners or "workout buddies" can sometimes offer that extra push. Here are my guidelines about exercising with another individual.
Expectations: Before you make the commitment to be someone's training partner, you want to make sure that you sit down together and list what you hope to get out of the experience together. It's important that you want the same things. Are you looking for someone to push you during your workouts? Are you looking for accountability? Or are you genuinely looking for companionship in this sport? What are you trying to accomplish? You want to make sure you have realistic expectations when you go into this experience.
Pace: This can be a difficult characteristic to match. We all move at different speeds. Finding a buddy to pace you is important. You don't want to run with someone who will physically exhaust you before mile 2 and at the same time, you don't want someone who is holding you back. Find a comfortable pace for both of you. The first run with anyone is awkward. You are constantly checking in, "Am I going to fast?" "Is this pace okay with you?" "Do you want me to slow down?" is the main conversation that will go on the first three miles. Find a comfortable medium in your pace. Chances are, if your paces are not in-sync, you are not compatible to run together.
Reliance: This is a big one. You need to have your own internal motivation before joining a friend to exercise. You cannot rely solely on your partner to be there for you everyday. Your partner will get sick one day and on that day, you need to be able to say, "Okay, well, I made a commitment to exercise today, so I will go out solo." Relying on your partner can also put stress on the relationship and you do not want that. Your partner should not be carrying you throughout each workout. The partnership is about support above all else. And with the roles reversed, you don't want someone relying on you for everything. I also feel that if you are relying on someone else, your goals may not be in the right goals for you. Perhaps you need to re-evaluate and set goals that are more achievable.
Personal Workout Day: It's important to make sure that you are still able to stand on your own two feet without your partner present at every workout. I believe in having a personal day to be with your own thoughts and to experience the power of self motivation. Allow at least one day a week to exercise independently.
Play Off Strengths: Find someone who can push you. Let your strengths and weaknesses strengthen the relationship as well as your training. It's a healthy balance when you can push your partner in areas that the other is weak. One can push in distance while the other excels in speedwork. It is a great way to grow as an athlete.
Be Supportive! This is the most important aspect of being a training partner. We must support one another! On days where your partner doesn't want to get out of bed for an early work out, remind them of their goals and encourage them to get out the door. Most of us choose a training partner for the accountability and support. This companionship allows us to conquer physical challenges that we may not have known was even possible!
Have a Tradition: Whether it's a chant you say out loud together while trekking up a massive hill or a high five after completing a 10-miler, find something that the two of you can share in that very moment. One of the many traditions my friend Sarah and I have, is to hold hands and sprint through the finish line together in every race we complete. This is a way for us to finish together. We are in the moment, reflecting on all of the hard work and commitment together. I look forward to those finish lines at every race.